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M’sia Firm To Leave Rice Out Of FTA List In Negotiation With US

Bernama, Malaysia

M’sia Firm To Leave Rice Out Of FTA List In Negotiation With US

13 November 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 13 (Bernama) — The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry has assured that it would stick to its decision not to liberalise the markets for padi and rice in negotiating the free trade agreement (FTA) with the United States.

Its minister, Datuk Mustapa Mohamad, said Malaysia was steadfast in its decision as padi was a strategic crop and it also wanted to protect local farmers’ interests.

"We will not allow an open market for padi and rice as desired by the US. We are firm in this matter and have explained our stand to the US," he said when winding up the debate on the 2009 Supply Bill in the Dewan Rakyat, Thursday.

The issue was raised by Dr Michael Jeyakumar (PSM-Sungai Siput) who wanted to know the government’s stand on the matter for fear that padi farmers in the country would experience a similar fate like the corn farmers in Mexico had.

The US had wanted Malaysia to open up its food and agriculture import, including for padi and rice, which are not listed in the FTA negotiation list with any country, to independent markets.

On another matter, Mustapa said the government had provided an additional allocation of RM25 million to the Federal Agriculture Marketing Authority in an effort to enhance the agency’s role in helping farmers and address the glut in fruit production.

On the fishery sector, he said a fishery information centre, which would gather all information on the industry, including the downstream and upstream activities, would be set up.

The information gathered would assist the ministry and industry players in making plans to boost the fishery sector, he added.